LOS ANGELES (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department said Friday it found that Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies at two stations in the Antelope Valley have engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional stops, searches, seizures and excessive force targeting African-Americans and Latinos.
Federal authorities also said they found a pattern or practice of discrimination against African-Americans through its enforcement of a housing voucher program.
Among the findings were that sheriff’s deputies were more likely to stop African-Americans than whites and they engaged in a “pattern of unreasonable force.”
“While our investigation showed significant problems in LASD’s Antelope Valley stations, we are confident that we will be able to reach an agreement that will provide meaningful and sustainable reform,” said Roy Austin Jr., deputy assistant attorney general.
Sheriff Lee Baca disagrees with the report’s conclusions, but has instituted reforms to better improve the department, said Steve Whitmore, a department spokesman.
“We stand resolute that we have not discriminated against members of the public,” Whitmore said. “We haven’t seen any racial profiling.”
The government and Los Angeles County have reached preliminary agreements to make broad changes to policing in the Antelope Valley and to enforcement of the housing voucher plan. Some of the reforms include revising training and use-of-force policies as well as participating in community meetings to gauge feedback from residents.
The investigation dating to August 2011 involves the Sheriff’s Department’s Lancaster and Palmdale stations in the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles.